Yes, it's true, I work with editors, and when they tell me I'm too close to the line, I rewrite.
But let's get to the "key point" of Michael Kinsley's response to me: Why do we need taxes? We need them, and use them, to control total effective demand. A car has an accelerator and a brake. Spending is the accelerator. Taxes are the brake. They're very useful, but the force of the accelerator has to be greater than the force of the brake, or the car will not move.
In the published version of my comment, I wrote of the "actual and proper function" of the estate tax. Not "purpose." Having detected the trap in the word "purpose," I avoided it. Do I approve of this system? Yes, as it happens, I think it works brilliantly, on the whole.
I'm glad to know that Mike does know the difference between a mean and a median. But then, why did he exaggerate the mean family net worth for households with a head aged 65-74 (by a lot), and why did use the word "typical" to describe this exaggerated case? There is no sense in which a typical American surviving spouse leaves a half million dollars behind, in the world in which we actually live.
The debate continues here.